31 May - 29 June 2012

Anton Kannemeyer


STEVENSON is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Anton Kannemeyer.

The humorous origins of this show lie in a suggestion by Kannemeyer's doctor that the artist no longer pay him in cash but give him art in exchange for his services. But, whenever Kannemeyer put forward a work in payment, the doctor had to 'run it by his wife' who invariably thought the piece was inappropriate for their home. When Kannemeyer's dentist made the same suggestion, the artist decided it was time for an exhibition of works that 'doctors and dentists' might actually want to hang in their houses.

In fact, while Kannemeyer is best known for biting satirical works that tackle politics, sex and race - and especially middle-class values - with little regard for people's sensitivities (or home décor), his oeuvre is far more diverse, and stylistically and conceptually eclectic, than this. He consistently observes the people and places around him with great visual acuity, recording his impressions in journals, travel diaries and sketchbooks, as well as paintings and prints.

Portraiture and landscape, in various forms, are brought to the fore in this exhibition. Kannemeyer describes his approaches to these genres:

For me, the portrait is less abstract than the landscape. In landscape you can find any number of different forms: rocks, trees, plants, stones, sand, grass, boulders, manmade objects such as roads and walls. As far as line is concerned you resolve everything differently. I think this is what gives the image its potency: an unpredictable line.
The portrait requires a different approach: there's a fine line between caricature and a realistic representation. In order to make people look more like themselves than they already do, you have to accentuate characteristics. The challenge is to show just enough, and to know when to stop.

Among the portraits on exhibition are images of Kannemeyer's partner, the artist Claudette Schreuders; the writer Antjie Krog; and Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er of Die Antwood. Kannemeyer finds the landscape of the Swartberg Pass in the Karoo extraordinarily compelling - 'all mark-making and emotion' - and this is the subject of a new series of etchings.

Inevitably, a sense of suburban dis-ease surfaces in some works, notably a new series of paintings, Splendid Dwelling. The title is a reference to Stendhal's Scarlet and Black (Le Rouge et le Noir), written in 1830 and satirising early 19th-century French society. On reading the novel, Kannemeyer notes:

I was amazed at how his depictions and criticisms of social strife and appearances remained pertinent today (on a different continent altogether)... And I remember my own desperately unhappy childhood in suburbia, living in a big white house with a large green lawn, driving with my father in an expensive car, thinking of suicide and escape.

Born in 1967, Kannemeyer lives in Cape Town. He has previously held solo exhibitions at Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg, in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York in 2008 and 2011. Recent group exhibitions include 'We're not armed, don't shoot' at Raum linksrechts in Hamburg, Germany (2012); Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011); Les Afriques de Papa at l'Espace du Collectif Sadi, Kinshasa, DR Congo (2010); ... for those who live in it: Pop culture, politics and strong voices at MU Eindhoven, The Netherlands (2010); and The Graphic Unconscious, Philagrafika 2010, Philadelphia (2010). He has published a number of books including Alphabet of Democracy and Pappa in Afrika, both 2010.

The exhibition opens on Thursday 31 May from 6 to 8pm.